Welcome everyone to the best time of the football season! Baseless rumor mongering! Delusional fan bases! Whatever the hell the Saints are doing!
We will be bringing it all to you, all week, reacting when news breaks in the NFL. This page will be constantly updating so check back often.
Read below for latest updates.
What I Missed While Sleeping.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is taking his magic to DC on a one year deal worth 10 million. There were talks that he planned to retire rather than continue on in 2021, but the prospect of playing for a great defense and one of the absolute worst owners and human beings in history must have sounded too glamorous to pass up.
Jameis Winston is staying in New Orleans on a one year deal worth 12 million. While he must be disappointed that he didn’t get the mega contract that Taysom Hill got, he can take satisfaction in knowing that his contract is real, and not a charade to get past the salary cap rules.
Dalvin Tomlinson is leaving the Giants to return to the NFC North, signing with the Vikings for two years/22 million. Tomlinson and former teammate Kevin Zeitler will now make a combined 23 million dollars this year after being released by the spectacularly mediocre Giants. Either the Giants are really bad at handling talent, or these guys are probably overpaid. Oh, it’s both? Got it.
Trey Hendrickson signs a four year, 60 million dollar deal with the Bengals. This is a stunning move because the hope is that Hendrickson can be as good as Carl Lawson, who…
…signs with the Jets for 3 years, 45 million. Why would you sign a guy to replace a guy you were hoping becomes that very guy for the same amount of money that guy would have cost?????
Carl Lawson is one of the most underrated players in football and moves on to a team that is going to be able to shine a larger spotlight on him and get him more recognition for his body of work. The Bengals, meanwhile, keep turning dollars into quarters.
7:10 PM-Jets sign Corey Davis to a 3 year, 37.5 million dollar deal
For the past day, the Jets have been using the full force of their source whores in the New York market to make people believe there is a market for Sam Darnold. The latest is that the Seahawks like Darnold if they trade Russell Wilson which….okay. While the Jets try to jettison Darnold, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the Jets are going to use the second pick in the draft on a quarterback. Whether it’s Zach Wilson from BYU or Justin Fields from Ohio State, or god help everyone Trey Lance from North Dakota St, New York seems set on adding a young QB to the mix.
If you are going to have a young quarterback, it’s a pretty good move having veteran receivers to make that quarterback’s transition as easy as possible. Not that this is necessarily the veteran to bring in, as Davis has never had 70 receptions, 1000 receiving yards, or 8 touchdowns in a single season. If this is the going rate though, around 13 million for guys who, if you squint hard, are number 2 receivers, then Davis seems like a better signing than Nelson Agholor was for the Jets, because Davis at least has more seasons of proof that he is marginally above average as a receiver.
6:15 PM-Rams sign Leonard Floyd to 4 year, 64 million dollar contract
Welp, time for me to start drinking. After four years of underperforming for the Bears, Floyd was able to parlay a career year into a four year contract. The contract makes him the 7th highest paid linebacker in the NFL, and looking at his stat total from last season makes me furious. He had 10.5 sacks last season, which was one fewer than he had in the previous three seasons combined.
Floyd had career highs in tackles and quarterback hits last season, and becomes a value if he can continue to play at this level. It’s possible that he is a player who learned to thrive once he changed offenses.
6:04 PM-Patriots sign Nelson Agholor to 2 year, 26 million dollar contract
I don’t get it. I really just don’t get it. Does anyone remember the movie Major League, where the owner was trying to tank the team to move out of Cleveland? That’s what it feels like New England is doing. Next season, they will pay 25 million dollars to have Jonnu Smith and Nelson Agholor on the field for them in 2021.
There is a perception that Nelson Agholor was a monster last season, but in reality, he only had 48 receptions, which, combined with Jonnu Smith, is 87 receptions. Marvin Jones, who has a much longer track record of success, had 76 receptions on his own last year, and will probably end up costing less than either player.
Agholor was a big play receiver for Las Vegas last year, but they also had a quarterback who was more accurate in Derek Carr than Cam Newton has been in years. He did average 18.6 yards per reception, but that came for a much more functional offense than the Patriots appear to be this upcoming seasons.
5:55 PM Raiders sign Yannick Ngakoue to 2 year/26 million dollar contract
With several high draft picks used to try to solidify the defensive line, the Raiders have turned to free agency in an attempt to bolster their pass rush by signing Yannick Ngakoue after the defender split last year between the Vikings and Ravens. In Ngakoue, the Raiders get a guy who can get to the quarterback, which they had been lacking in over the past couple seasons. In spite of using high draft picks on guys like Clelin Ferrell, the Raiders were left needing to go into the free agency market to solve their issues.
Ngakoue has at least eight sacks in every season he has been in the NFL. He had an additional 33 quarterback hits in 2018, though that number has fallen off each of the past two seasons. He has also averaged at least four forced fumbles every season in the NFL. The deal is short term enough that if he regresses any further, the Raiders can get out of the deal fairly easily after the season, but if he can show his form from 2018, then he becomes a huge value for Las Vegas.
4:33 PM-Browns sign John Johnson III to 3 year/33.5 million dollar deal
Color me shocked that the Rams were willing to let someone who many saw as a cornerstone to their defense walk in free agency. The Browns are getting a player in Johnson who has had over 100 tackles in two of the past three seasons. Johnson moved from Strong Safety to Free Safety this past season, and was still able to excel in the position. Johnson is currently set to be the 8th highest paid safety in the NFL this season, which feels like a good value for both him and the Browns.
4:20 PM-Chargers sign Corey Linsley to 5 year, 62.5 million dollar contract.
Now here is some damn money! Corey Linsley parlayed an All Pro season in 2020 with the Packers into a contract that makes him the highest paid center in the NFL. In fact, Linsley excelled so much that he was named 1st Team All Pro in spite of only playing 13 games last season. Linsley had not missed a single game in the three years prior.
He has ten career holding penalties, but only one over the past three seasons, combined. The Chargers needed interior line help, and were willing to shell out a lot of money for one of the best at their position.
4:15 PM-Chiefs sign Joe Thuney to 5 year, 80 million dollar contract
Wait, didn’t the Chiefs just let 60 percent of their offensive line go in a contract crunch? Joe Thuney is good for sure, and is receiving 32.5 million guaranteed in the contract. But the Chiefs just left both of their offensive tackles go, and their center is set to hit free agency. Without them being in great shape against the salary cap, it seems like they team would have been better suited going after multiple players at the tackle position, rather than reinforce their interior line.
Thuney was called for three holding penalties last season while playing out of position for the Patriots. There is a chance that the Chiefs try to play him at tackle again this season, but his best spot is at left guard, where he excelled for four seasons. The contract makes Thuney the second highest paid guard in the NFL, behind only Brandon Scherff, who signed his second consecutive franchise tag last week.
4:05 PM-Jaguars sign Roy Robertson-Harris to a 3 year, 24 million dollar contract
They signed him for how much? I like Roy Robertson-Harris. A lot. In fact, I was much more excited at the prospect of the Bears giving Harris a new contract rather than Mario Edwards. That said, Robertson-Harris received 14 million guaranteed money from the Jaguars in a three year deal. The Jaguars are betting that Robertson-Harris can expand what he showed in a small sample size as a rotational lineman. At times, Robertson-Harris has looked like a world wrecker, but has done so on a defense that includes Khalil Mack, Akeim Hicks, and Roquan Smith. Before an injury robbed him of his 2020, Robertson-Harris had 5.5 sacks and 21 QB hits in part time duty between 2018 and 2019. The Jaguars are betting on Harris to fill a more full time role, and are paying him as such.
3:45 PM-The Patriots sign Matt Judon and Jalen Mills for 4 years/56 Million and 4 years/24 Million Dollars
Hey remember the Patriots, the team that was heralded for being the smartest team in the room? They always were one step ahead of everyone in the draft and never held onto a player too long? Yea, those days are dead. They have now spent 130 million dollars on Matt Judon, Jalen Mills and Jonnu Smith.
Judon is a good signing, coming off back to back pro bowl seasons. He has averaged 7 sacks per season during his five year career. He also has 54 quarterback hits over the past two seasons. At 16 million dollars per year, Judon rates out to be a value signing at a premium position. His contract is similar to that of outside lineback from last year’s free agent class, and Judon has a better reputation of productivity.
Jalen Mills spent the first five years of his career as a cornerback before switching over to safety last season. His flexibility is a huge perk for a Patriots defense that thrives on it’s moving pieces. He has missed 16 games over the past three seasons, which kept him from getting a larger contract this offseason. The Patriots getting him to sign a four year deal is impressive, as Mills might have been best suited to sign a one year deal and re-enter the free agent market next season.
12:30 PM-Jonnu Smith signs with the Patriots for four years/50 Million dollars.
Holy crap. This is the first real “out of left field” move of the offseason. Former Titans right end Jonny Smith has signed a deal with the Patriots that makes him the third highest paid tight end in the NFL.
The Patriots were expected to be looking for offensive weapons and have done so by giving a monster contract to Smith, who will receive over 30 million guaranteed in the deal.
Smith set career highs in Tennessee last season with 41 receptions, 448 yards, and 8 touchdowns. In terms of league leaders at the position last year, he was 21st in receptions, 20th in yards, and 5th in touchdowns.
Unless Bill Belichek sees a lot of untapped potential in Smith, this seems like a massive overpay for the 12th-15th best tight end in the NFL right now. In a year when player salaries were expected to be stagnant this year due to the salary cap, Smith has set a market price that has to have someone like Hunter Henry expecting much more money next year, and teams in need of a tight end calling up Philadelphia about Zach Ertz.
11:15 AM-Shaq Barrett is returning to the Buccaneers.
In news that has been expected since Tom Brady signed a new deal to open up cap space for Tampa, Shaquil Barrett is resigning with the team.
After a massive 2019, in which he recorded 19.5 sacks, Barrett was an anchor for the Bucs as they won the Super Bowl over the Chiefs last month. Barrett had been seen as a candidate to get the franchise tag, but that was used on Chris Godwin by the team.
The deal is for four years, 72 million, with 36 million guaranteed. He will earn a base salary of 17 million with performances bonuses that can get him to 18 million per year.
7:30 AM-Ravens sign free agent guard Kevin Zeitler to a three year deal.
The Ravens are the first team to strike in free agency, signing recently released Giants guard Kevin Zeitler a three year contract worth 22.5 million, with 15 million guaranteed.
Zeitler was able to be signed because he had been cut and not simply had his contract end, meaning he didn’t have to wait for the official start of free agency to sign.
Baltimore obviously knew that the guard position was weak in free agency and opted to make a splash by bringing in the former Giant. That said, it’s a curious move because Kevin Zeitler isn’t that great of an offensive lineman.
Over the past two seasons, Zeitler rates out as the 19th best guard in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. He does have great durability, only missing one game total in the past six seasons. Oddly enough, he had three false start penalties this year with no fans in the stands, while getting zero false starts the year before with crowds that, ostensibly, should make false starts happen more often.
At the price he comes in at, he is the 15th highest paid guard at his position. From a positional value, the Ravens are paying for the exact production Zeitler has shown he can give you. It is worth noting that over the past four seasons, the offensive lines that he has been on have finished 19th, 19th, 14th, and 18th in rushing offense. This feels like an average contract for an average player.
For the money, it’s not a bad life if you can get it.
Saints give Taysom Hill four years/140 million, but not really.
Going into the offseason, the Saints were in comically bad shape with the salary cap. Even with Drew Brees restructuring his contract and retiring, the Saints were 60 million over the salary cap. How were they going to fix it?
Well, for starters, they have already cut a bunch of key veterans from the team. Having to get rid of players like Kwan Alexander and Janoris Jenkins obviously hurts the on field product of the team, but were necessary for the team to limbo under the cap this year.
Then they went and made this egregious deal with Taysom Hill. Essentially, they signed him to a four year, 140 million extension in which every year is voidable on the contract! They are literally going to just tear the deal up, and it saves the Saints 7.6 million against this year’s salary cap.
At this point, New Orleans has proven that the salary cap is worthless and every time you think you have them cornered, they slither out and run away.
Sunday-Cam Newton returns to the Patriots on a one year deal.
Bill Belichek has a bunch of cap money, but very little of it was spent to bring former MVP and fancy hat enthusiast back on a one year deal. The deal, which is heavily incentive laden, is basically the team telling Newton that he has one shot to take the reigns of this team, and that they aren’t so heavily invested that they can’t jettison him at the first sign of trouble.
Newton was effective early in the season for the Pats before a bout with Covid. After he returned, he just didn’t have the same energy, and his reads did not look as good as they had pre-Covid. The Patriots are essentially taking a low cost risk that Cam knows the playbook and can bounce back. If not, Jarret Stidham will be called into duty in what could turn into a lost season in New England.